For years it has been debated whether or not a concert from the 1969 Monkees tour was recorded. Conflicting reports and recollections from members of The Monkees, their backing band from that era, and others have added to the intrigue. All this time later, however, no tapes have ever surfaced. One concert, thought to be the May 10, 1969 performance in Wichita, Kansas does exist as a bootleg, but it’s an absolutely horrible recording usually sought after for historical purposes only.
Both Micky Dolenz and Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval have seemingly confirmed that there is no audio to be heard from the 1969 tour. "We never recorded that," Micky Dolenz said in a 2005 online interview. "I recorded Sam & The Goodtimers [the supporting band on the 1969 tour] as an act, and was trying to sell them to a record company. But we never recorded - I wish we had, it was funny, it was really great having that band, they were a great band."
Sandoval agreed with Micky about the nonexistence of 1969 live audio. "Certainly there’s no tape of a 1969 show in the Monkees vault. What Micky says…that he taped them (The Goodtimers) at that Souled Out Club in Los Angeles…makes a lot of sense," Sandoval said in a 2005 interview. "I tried to do research about that club. I found out where it was but there were never any advertisements or listings of who played there in that time period, so it was hard to say when the Goodtimers played there or when The Monkees might have come to see them. It seems more and more that if there had been a recording it would have shown up by now. It’s been a long time, you know?”
Even with these statements, curiosity still surrounds potential live recordings from the 1969 tour today. The year, after all, was more than challenging for the group, who were now a trio after the departure of Peter Tork. With their weekly television series off the air (but revived in syndication in the fall of '69), along with the disastrous box office returns of their feature film Head, and the lukewarm reception to their 1969 NBC television special, The Monkees' concert show proved a hard sell to ticket buyers. To their credit, The Monkees were experimenting with new sounds in their music as well as in their live performances, developing an act that was revue-like in its presentation and supported onstage by Sam & The Goodtimers, a seven-piece rhythm and blues band. Despite some positive vibes from the critics, the 1969 tour, Micky later said, "was like kicking a dead horse. The phenomenon had peaked." "We all had a good time on the tour," Michael Nesmith told Sandoval in the 1990s, but "it was tough out there." Documentation of The Monkees in concert from this era would reveal a unique period in the history of the group like never before, and is a main factor in why fans still hold out hope that tapes will materialize.
Historical evidence survives to keep those hopes alive. Below is a radio spot that was aired in Oakland, California in advance of The Monkees' appearance there on November 30, 1969.
You'll note that the advertisement mentions the fact that the concert will be recorded for "their next album," but once again, no tapes seem to exist.
Monkees fan Justin Rakowski decided to create his own album artwork for such an LP as if it had been released in the aftermath of The Monkees' 1969 tour. Check out Justin's creations below!
Great job, Justin! Fantasy artwork like this and others are always a lot of fun to examine. Now if only those tapes would emerge!
Here's the promotional handbill for the Oakland Coliseum concert that Justin used on the back cover of his LP:
A big thanks to Derek Miner who shared his awesome reimagination of The Monkees' last original album Changes, based on the premise that Michael Nesmith was still a member of the group at the time of its release in June 1970.
Before you check out the images below, there is some backstory about the photo used for the cover of Changes, and the fact that Michael was cropped out of it:
Here's Derek's take on the front cover:
The back cover, complete with Derek's own track listing for a Nesmith-infused Changes:
Derek's artwork without the title treatment:
And finally, the actual cover art for Changes as released on Colgems Records in 1970. "There is the theory that the color background image was done with Mike originally and he was just cropped off," Derek said, adding that "the evidence being a small purple spot on the left that could have been Mike's guitar headstock."
This article, written by Monkee Business Fanzine editor Maggie McManus and published in the September 1997 issue, focuses on Micky's artwork that was showcased on both The Monkees' 1996 and 1997 summer tours.
(Courtesy of Dinky Publishing)
The original 1968 picture sleeve:
Check out some of their other work:
By the time The Monkees Present was released in October 1969, the group's commercial fortunes had dwindled. Their eighth LP, it peaked at a disappointing #100 on the Billboard charts. Original plans were more substantial than the product that was finally delivered. "It's going to be a double album," Micky said during an appearance on The Hy Lit Show in late 1968, "where we'll each have a side where we produce our own particular sounds, whatever." Peter Tork's subsequent departure, combined with The Monkees' steady drop in popularity, nixed those ideas.
When The Monkees Present hit record stores, the original double album concept had been pared down to a single disc. Even the cover art fell victim to the group's plummeting fame. Michael Nesmith recalled the change years later in a conversation with Andrew Sandoval. "The one that had the black and white cover done with Marks-A-Lot," said Nez when referring to Neko Chohlis' sleeve design, "that was supposed to be in color. Apparently it was in color and they wouldn't do a color separation, because by that time we were, you know, as cold as yesterday's soup. Nobody would spend any money."
In 1994, The Monkees Present made its compact disc debut courtesy of Rhino Records. It was finally issued with a color cover, redrawn and designed by Lisa Sutton:
Here's the unused original color gatefold art for The Monkees Present. Like the color cover design, the gatefold style was not utilized when the LP was ultimately pressed.
Thanks very much to Stephen for submitting his artwork to the Live Almanac! Click the image to enlarge.
In 1976, the mail order company Laurie House produced a 2-LP Monkees set. The front and back covers were the same, and no track listing was offered on the album jacket.
Check out the songs included and more at Monkee45s.
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Dolenz sings Nesmith - The EP
Micky Dolenz Live!